En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - January 06, 2014

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Natural privacy hedge for Kyle Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking to make a natural privacy screen in the Kyle Texas area. I am being pointed towards Leyland Cypress by some and told to shy away from this tree by others. I found Green Giant Arborvitae although it seems the growing area is not suited to this region. My points of interest are fast growing, ability to be trimmed into tall hedge type for adequate privacy and noise blocking. Any ideas? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Hesperotropsis leylandii (Leyland cypress), which has many synonyms (e.g., × Cuprocyparis leylandii, x Cupressocyparis leylandii, Callitropsis ×leylandii, × Neocupropsis leylandii) is a hybrid (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa – Monterey cypress × Callitropsis nootkatensis – Alaska cedar).   It is not a 'natural' hybrid because the native range of these plants is separated by some 400 or so miles.   It was hybridized in Wales where the two species (Monterey cypress and Alaska cedar) were transplanted and grew in close proximity.  So, even though the parent trees are North American natives, it isn't considered a native of North America.  True, it does grow fast and would form a thick hedge, but it has shallow roots which, with the fact that the range of its parent trees is the northern part of the west coast of North America, do not make it a good match for the hot Central Texas summers.  

Green Giant Arborvitae, Thuja (standishii x plicata), is also a hybrid—a cross between Thuja standishii (Japanese arborvitae), a native of Japan and Thuja plicata (Western red cedar), a native of the North American west coast from northern California to Alaska.  It is a fast grower, too, but again the native range of its two parent components would not recommend it for hot Texas summers.

There are two native evergreens, however, that are well-suited to the climate and soils of Central Texas:

  • Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar)  There are several varieties that will readily form hedges and it is very tolerant of pruning.  Here is some information from Neil Sperry about planting them.  This species is more likely to be found in local nurseries than the following species.
  • Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper)  Ashe juniper would also make a great hedge, but probably not as popular a choice as Eastern red cedar because of its reputation for producing allergies from its pollen.   In fact, both juniper species produce pollen that is an allergen to some people. Only the male trees, NOT the female trees, produce pollen but unless the trees are mature it won't be easy to tell the males from the females.

There are several other evergreen shrubs or small trees that can be used as hedges in the Central Texas area.   They won't be as dense as the two junipers but could be mixed together or with the junipers for an effective barrier.  Please read the species' page for information about its size and growing conditions.

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel)

Here is more about evergreen hedges for Texas from Neil Sperry's Gardens

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Cherry laurel
Prunus caroliniana

More Trees Questions

Encouraging branch growth of live oak trees in Austin
February 10, 2009 - I recently had an elm tree cut down that was crowding out 2 live oak trees in my front yard. The oaks have no branches on the sides that were next to the elm. The elm stump is still there. I need to ...
view the full question and answer

Lantana trees in Wyoming MI
August 16, 2010 - We love lantana with its multicolored flowers. This weekend we visited Michigan State University and saw "lantana trees".They were amazing!! Have these trees been grown from the annual plant we have...
view the full question and answer

Cherry trees in the North Texas area
April 21, 2009 - Will cherry trees grow well in the North Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing tree for Houston
January 19, 2009 - Please suggest me fast growing tree like Eucalyptus for Zip 77099 to protect building with its shade. I understand Eucalyptus is not good for our area and is flammable. Any other with similar fast gro...
view the full question and answer

Tag on oak tree in Buda, TX
April 02, 2008 - I found a large oak tree on my property with a tag that has a number on it. Any idea what that means?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center